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A New Crop of Research Reveals Consumers Are Ready To Go Au Naturale in Fresh Food Packaging

(ARA) - A new study conducted by Grapentine Company, Inc., reveals that a large group of consumers are interested in purchasing fresh food in natural-based packaging. These consumers are prepared to back that up with their wallets, and will pay extra per item if it is contained in a package derived from nature.

The research revealed that a majority of consumers rank the concept of purchasing fresh food in natural-based packaging on par with two of grocery retail’s highest-selling product trends, fresh herbs and spices, and organic meats and produce. The new corn-based alternatives have been shown to perform as well as, or better than, traditional petroleum-based plastic packaging.

“The study shows consumers want to take wholesome, fresh meals home to their families, but the food is only half of the equation,” says Lisa Owen, commercial leader for NatureWorks(TM) PLA, which is at the forefront of this burgeoning industry. “We believe consumers also want to take the food home in packaging that contributes to their family’s wholesome food experience.”

Made from corn, NatureWorks PLA is the first commercially viable biopolymer derived from an annually renewable resource to be used in large-scale, North American commercial grocery applications. Containers made from NatureWorks PLA are 100 percent natural-based and will degrade in industrial compost facilities.

“The fact that this packaging can be composted is a welcome bonus,” Owen adds. “Consumers are happy to do their part for the environment, as well as

provide a wholesome experience for their families.”

Packaging from NatureWorks PLA is currently being used in several branches of Wild Oats Markets, Inc. (Nasdaq: OATS) stores in Portland, Oregon, to contain deli products like fruits, salads, and cheeses.

“Customer response to this new packaging has been terrific,” says Kurt Luttecke, Nature’s/Wild Oats area director of operations. “Not only are these new containers 100 percent natural-based, they’re as functional as the traditional plastic tubs the industry uses as far as strength, clarity and sealing in the flavor and aroma of our deli products.” Wilkinson Manufacturing, Fort Calhoun, Neb., manufactures the containers sold in Wild Oats’ stores. For more information on Wilkinson Manufacturing, visit

The technology to produce NatureWorks PLA essentially harvests carbon that has been removed from the air by corn plants during photosynthesis and stored in grain starches. This is achieved by breaking down the starches into natural plant sugars and, through a simple process of fermentation and separation, using the carbon and other elements in these natural sugars to make the plastic polylactide (PLA). NatureWorks PLA is 100 percent matter derived from corn.

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